‘You’d want to live twice over” an elderly neighbour used to say when I was a child! ‘Once to make all the mistakes and learn the lessons and the second life to get it all right’!

Sounds like a good idea and the older I get the more I see his point!

Still there was one thing missing from his message and that was God’s mercy!

If we were all to start life again we’d probably make a better job of it and not make the mistakes of youth but God has a way of sorting things out!

You see God doesn’t undo our mistakes even when he forgives them! He uses our mess to show off his mercy!

Think of a child who breaks a window and asks his father to forgive him. The window is still broken but what loving Dad would leave it to the child to fix when he doesn’t know how?!!

This brings to mind a funny story relating to my own Dad! I was about 23 and was driving my aunt’s second car, a ford escort! I thought it’d be a good idea to give my younger brother David a driving lesson! He was about 16 I guess.

He already knew the basics but he must have put the car into third gear instead of first because next thing I knew we were flying down the driveway and we crashed through the front wall of the house!!

My dad was livid, already he didn’t have a high opinion of me but this took the biscuit!

However, when he calmed down he did forgive me and to be fair he built the wall back!

Moral of the story: God doesn’t just forgive us and leave us to handle the consequences of our mistakes, God helps us fix the mistakes and reconstruct our lives!

For this God often uses other people. He puts us in touch with counsellors, with priests, with doctors and nurses. He helps us to get out of the bad business decision we made and to move on with our lives.

Yes, God delivers us!

The only catch, if you call it a catch, is that God is patient and we are not!!

We’d like Him to sort out everything immediately. Going back to my example with the wall, my Dad rebuilt it a year later and everybody in the community found out what happened! Had he repaired it immediately my pride would have been spared but maybe I’d have learnt nothing. My auntie also forgave me and I paid the €600 to repair the car without complaining!

Similarly with God! Perhaps He works so slowly in order to teach us. If He fixed everything so quickly maybe we’d learn nothing from it and quickly dump our prayer lives once all was ok again!

Also as He fixes our mistakes we learn that God doesn’t want to just be in our lives to fix mistakes but He desires to be our friend and help us on the good days too!

And so as I think back to my elderly neighbour I say ‘no, living once is enough, God doesn’t hold our mistakes against us but transforms them into something even more wonderful through his mercy’!

So friends, don’t lament on the consequences of your past mistakes or think they disqualify you from a future but rather trust even more in the extraordinary mercy of our God who can turn even the most complicated lives into testimonies of transformation and hope!

‘Heavenly Father, the mess of my life is yours. Let’s fix it together and do something great’.

Bless you all with joy, hope and a happy future!

Michael